Plans to redevelop the vacant Osborne Village Inn as a boutique hotel have been scrapped in favour of converting it into a combination apartment/retail complex.
A senior official with Cushman Wakefield Winnipeg, the real estate firm that will market the retail space in the Osborne Street property, confirmed the top two floors of the three-storey building will be converted into apartments and the main and lower levels will be developed as retail space.
"We’re going to chase down some restaurants for the main floor," said Ken Yee, the firm’s senior vice-president.
"We’re looking for some active-sports-theme type of venues (for the lower level)."
The inn was a mainstay in the trendy Osborne Village for a half-century until it closed in 2015.
The new owner — Winnipeg’s Fusion Capital Corp. — has been tight-lipped about its plans for the hotel, but sources said last year it was converting it into a boutique hotel with 20 to 30 rooms on the top two floors, a restaurant on the main floor and a stand-alone bar in the lower level.
Yee said he’s not sure why plans changed, and Fusion Capital president Ross Ransby could not be reached for comment.
Yee said the micro-apartments will range from 275 to 450 square feet. Monthly rents will range from $975 to $1,400, including utilities. The suites will be fully furnished and "fairly well-appointed," he added.
The main floor could be leased to a single tenant, but the more likely scenario is that it will be divided it into two units. The one on the south half of the floor would be about 4,900 sq. ft., and the one on the north side would be about 4,200 sq. ft.
In addition to the interior renovations, the building will get an exterior facelift that will include the installation of new windows and new entrances for main-floor tenants.
"The whole front is going to get squared off and we have plans for a very extensive street-front patio.
"We think that will help us attract a couple of national restaurants that are looking around the area," Yee explained.
"Obviously, in order to attract national restaurant types we’re going to have to give it a new, fresh look."
He said the main-floor tenants will have some say in how the front of the building is upgraded.
"Outdoor patios are a big deal right now for restaurants. The one that Canada Brewhouse built out at Lindenridge is kind of setting the watermark as far as how effective a good patio could be."
Beer vendor to close
Yee said two options for the lower level are a bowling alley or an active-sports-themed restaurant similar to the new Underdogs outlet at 2605 Portage Ave., where patrons can play games such as pinball, foosball, bubble hockey or Ping Pong.
"Bowling is making somewhat of a comeback and there are a few good operators out there. So we’re going to be talking to that type of folks."
The stand-alone beer vendor behind the hotel will close at the end of this month and Yee said the 2,090-sq.-ft. building will be repurposed.
"It might be a good, small office building. It might be something for a medical practitioner, a massage (clinic), a salon — that sort of thing because there is ample parking back there."
He said the 50 parking stalls will be reserved for tenants and their customers, while another 60-stall parking lot Fusion owns on the south side of Wardlaw Avenue will continue to operate as public parking.
Jenny Gerbasi, city councillor for the area, said all she knows about the new plans for the property is what she’s seen in media reports.
"But I think people have been expecting to see some redevelopment of that site. It seems like it has just been sitting there without anything happening," she said.
"Hopefully, there will be upgrading of the site. I think it’s kind of rundown, and I think people would like to see it looking better and having people living there," she said.
"Increasing rental housing is a good thing in the Village, for sure."